Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lost, by Michael Robotham (trade, $13.95)

I've finished the trilogy! Lost is actually the second of the three, beginning with Suspect and ending with Night Ferry, but I started with Night Ferry. I don't think my enjoyment was diminished for reading out of order, but now I grok certain things better.

In Lost, Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz is the first-person narrator. He was an ancillary character in Suspect, which featured first-person narrator Joe O'Loughlin, a psychologist who appears as the second banana in Lost. Ali Barba is yet another second banana in Lost, and she is the star of Night Ferry. Are you Lost yet?

It's remarkable to me that Robotham is capable of inventing three very different voices and making them sound so real. O'Loughlin is a slightly arrogant, sophisticated (and intelligent) psychologist. Ruiz is a rough, abrupt, controlling (and intelligent) detective inspector. Ali Barba is a young, ambitious, complex (and intelligent) Sikh detective.

He is my new go-to author. His language is rich, his plots are complex, and I can't wait to turn the page. But I've now read all his books. [Insert mask of tragedy here.]

Lost begins with Ruiz being fished out of the river. One of his fingers is missing and there is a big hole in his leg where he has been shot. And to add insult to injury, he doesn't remember what happened. He suffers from transient global amnesia, and this means he has to backtrack through the last few weeks of his life to figure out how he wound up in the river. It doesn't take long to realize that whatever he was doing was not officially sanctioned and he is now anathema to the department. Without Her Majesty's government behind him, Ruiz must now rely on his (now) friend Joe, whose Parkinson's symptoms are steadily worsening, and Ali Barba, who has taken a leave to help her former partner.

In teasing Memento-like fashion, the story's layers are peeled back to reveal the gem at the center.

And now I must wait to see if Robotham has yet another trick or two up his sleeve.

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